What is Body Pump?

If you’ve been reading my weekly training recaps for the past month, you will have seen my recent obsession with this gym class called Body Pump. I’d been avoiding the gym for weeks and needed some way to inject excitement back into strength training. Having attended the class once many months ago, I decided to give it another go… and discovered that I loved it! Since then I’ve been going to one or two sessions a week, and can already see and feel the effect it is having on my body.

So what is it?

Body Pump is a barbell workout which is taught by a certified Les Mills instructor. In each session, you use a barbell or free weights to perform choreographed moves to the latest hits – and get pretty sweaty while doing so. After a warmup you target a different muscle groups with each song, eg. glutes, quads, triceps, biceps etc.. The official website describes it as such:

BODYPUMP is a barbell workout for anyone looking to get lean, toned and fit – fast.

Using light to moderate weights with lots of repetition, BODYPUMP gives you a total body workout. It will burn up to 540 calories**. Instructors will coach you through the scientifically proven moves and techniques pumping out encouragement, motivation and great music – helping you achieve much more than on your own! You’ll leave the class feeling challenged and motivated, ready to come back for more.

There are six Body Pump classes each week at my gym, either in the full 55-minute or shortened 45-minute version. The shorter one starts with the same tracks/moves, but then does combo moves for the last songs (eg. lunges + shoulder press) to hit several muscle groups at once. I find this more difficult than in the longer class, however we do often run out of time and miss out on the final abs song, which one reason I prefer the longer class. Both tend to go quite quickly – I’m surprised by how fast 30mins can move when you’re having sweaty fun.

Each Body Pump class uses the same track list for three months, except for in the last month (I was told) where the instructors will swap and change with choreo from previous cycles. I started in the last weeks of Tracklist 107, and I love the song selection so much that they’re constantly stuck in my head, and I was really sad when the instructors started mixing it up in preparation for Tracklist 108! 😭 Thankfully though there are plenty of places where you can listen to each tracklist, such as via Spotify or YouTube.

In Body Pump, you make use of a barbell with weights, a step and a mat. Everyone chooses their own weights, which means that you can lift as heavy or as light as you want on that particular day. As your strength improves, you simply add weight to your bar and marvel at the fact that you’re lifting more than you were last time.

All equipment is provided by the gym, including weights of 1kg, 2.5kg, 5kg and 10kg. I tend to take 2x 5kgs, 4x 2.5kgs and 2x 1kg so that I have enough options for the different moves. Sometimes the classes are very full and taking 8 weights isn’t possible 😉 In fact, there was once a class where we ran out of barbells entirely! I’ve learned to arrive at class early, and be super-speedy-efficient in claiming my place and setting up, because otherwise you could end up squished in a corner with no line-of-sight to the instructor.

Each of the three class time-slots I’ve been to have had a different instructor, with very different styles. My preferred one is the Tuesday 55min guy, who has a super high energy and really cares about everyone doing the moves together in time with the music. He’ll often shout ‘ça va?’ at the class, even though we’re too busy lifting weights to respond 😛 In comparison, my Thursday teacher is much quieter and likes to talk through every move as we go along, more like a yoga teacher. Her style could suit certain people though, particularly if you’re not such a fan of group activities. If you can find an instructor who vibes with you, that’s the best class to attend.

I love Body Pump because every time I do it I feel like a badass. For an hour (or so), I get to lift weights to pumping music in an environment where everyone is sweating together. There is no judgement or guys waiting for you to finish your reps so they can use your machine, just fun. After a few weeks I’m getting stronger: able to squat more and fatigue less towards the end of the session. It’s been a great way to get back into strength-training, and if your gym offers it, I highly recommend that you give it a try. I’m even dragging Sye along for his first time tonight!

Have you tried Body Pump? What’s your favourite class at the gym or method of strength training?

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